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How do family doctors differ from specialists?

There is much overlap in the field of family medicine with other specialties. Family doctors are sometimes said to care for patients from "womb to tomb," meaning health issues and preventive care from prenatal and obstetrics through end-of-life care. Family doctors often manage many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and COPD. Family doctors also perform some small invasive procedures and operations. The scope of practice for each practitioner may depend on location, need for services, type of business and personal choice. Family medicine doctors are sometimes referred to as the gatekeepers of medicine, as they can refer patients to specialists when necessary.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.